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Lake Taupo weekend: 4~White water and moon craters

Much as we were settling into life-by-the-lake, we had planned a day trip to Taupo about 20 minutes away.

The town of 20,000 or so is pretty much a tourism destination what with the lake, geothermal features, and proximity to the mountains and Waikato River to name a few things.

And that weekend we were tourists!

Huka Falls

A short way out of town is a place where the Waikato River converges through a narrow channel and gushes down a short waterfall. The flow rate varies according to hydro power station control gates further upriver. At full tilt it’s a captivating sight with furious torrents of white water. Fittingly, Huka (hooka) means foam.

We hadn’t timed our visit optimally for maximum furiousness, but it was still impressive. And best of all, it’s freeee.

(Not counting the 20 or 50 cents to use the loos.)

Huka Falls

Boys

Huka Falls

Bridge over Huka Falls

The odd crazy person kayaks down it, e.g.: 1981 – first successful run and 2013.

Huka Falls

There are more sane ways to see the falls from the water.

If you're short on time or gagging for a shot of adrenalin, this would be the way to go

If you’re short on time or gagging for a shot of adrenalin, this would be the way to go

Or for something a bit more tame, there's the Maid of the Falls - vaguely akin to the tour boat experience at Niagara Falls

Or for something a bit more tame, there’s the Maid of the Falls – vaguely akin to the tour boat experience at Niagara Falls

As we left a group of ‘backpackers’ (I’m generalising) had just arrived by bus. Whereas some trotted off, a few looked content to just sit it out in the shade and not bother to go beyond the carpark. I know what it’s like to feel jaded by travel, but all the same – what a waste!

Craters of the Moon

Not far away is NZ’s largest geothermal field, Wairakei. The country’s most famous geothermal area is about an hour away in fragrant old Rotorua, but Taupo also has a couple of places where you can appreciate this unique terrain.

The terrain gives rise to the name Craters of the Moon, a ‘steamfield’ in Wairakei through which a walkway has been created. The modest entry fee makes it an economical family activity.

We slathered on sunscreen and set off in a hot part of this very summery day, not overly concerned since the circuit only takes about 45 mins to complete.

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

Three quarters of an hour didn’t allow for a bunch of dithering by someone keen to shoot a bunch of photos but that’s ok โ€“ I’m happy trailing the pack in those circumstances to snap away as I wish.

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

A few decades ago there were geysers but these dried up with the introduction of geothermal power development nearby. The flip side of that is a boost in ground hotness and steam related activity at Craters of the Moon.

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

As a result, the land is constantly alive with steam vents, sulphuric gas emissions and mud pools. Occasionally (about once a year), the underground steam build-up causes an eruption. The very visible craters are testimony to this, some small and some really quite big.

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

While carefully placed, the walkway has had to be changed over time to skirt around the remnants of Earth’s sporadic hissy fits.

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

The circuit finishes with a walk up and along a ridge which gives you a pretty amazing view over CotM and across to Taupo. (Or if you can’t be shagged doing that, you can take a gentler low road.)

Craters of the Moon, Taupo

I enjoyed this place and would return.

Back at the kiosk, a few keen people took possession of iceblocks which were slurped as we contemplated our next move. Not surprisingly it involved the lake.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Loved the rapids but I certainly wouldn’t have gone down them in a kayak

    13 June 2013
  2. OMG, what photos. Your country seems to full of nature wonders! Your photos praise the beauty of Your country. Thank You!

    14 June 2013
    • You made me smile! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

      14 June 2013
  3. Beautiful! Brought back some memories ๐Ÿ™‚

    30 June 2013

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